Slow & Steady Wins for Whistler Blackcomb & Nestlé

Bill Cooper, Chief Operating Partner

Whistler Blackcomb is a sponsorship utopia, with a year-long flow of loyal and engaged consumers who readily spend as they engage in the pursuits they are passionate about. The core demographic on the mountain is profoundly attractive to any brand with a product or service to sell that is synonymous with active lifestyles.

The challenge, however, is how does a brand harness this remarkable opportunity in a manner that is authentic to the mountain experience? How do you augment and enrich the mountain experience and not just interrupt a skier’s line of sight with an uninvited commercial message?

Part of the answer is looking at the Consumer Continuum™ to identify the existing and natural rituals and consumer trends on the mountain and imagine how a brand could make them better.

In recent years, Coca-Cola has “opened happiness” at multiple resorts across North America with tube parks that provide hours of consumer-friendly entertainment. Meanwhile TELUS has brought substantial wireless coverage to Whistler Blackcomb making it easy to share the latest yard sale or perfectly landed big air. And Labatt has made Kokanee as synonymous with a good après experience as finally loosening your boots after a long day on the hill.

But it is the latest brand animation brought to life by Nestlé that has me really impressed. New to the Whistler Blackcomb family, Nestlé took some time to prowl the mountain before bringing their brand to life in front of the 2.6 million visitors a year. Together with the Strategic Alliances and Partner Marketing team at Whistler Blackcomb, we helped them identify two fantastically authentic platforms for their brands. Firstly, after seeing a weekend warrior snowboarder such as myself struggle a tad to bend over and do up my bindings, they took sympathy and distributed some additional bench seating around the mountain in the endearing shape of a KIT KAT bar.

Secondly, the team creatively thought to revitalize the ubiquitous reminders to ski and ride safely through family and beginner areas with TURTLES Slow Zones in high traffic merge points on both mountains. What better way to roll out the TURTLES brand than in the context of ‘Slow Zone’ banners and signage? This delivers authentic branding to Nestlé in an uncluttered and impactful spot on the hill while driving a very favourable response from the consumers they wish to reach. In fact, the message is going down even better on the periodic sampling days when Whistler Blackcomb staff, and the TURTLE himself, reward responsible skiers and riders by shelling out TURTLES to chew and thus incenting riders to slow down sooner.

Not only do guests love having a sweet treat on their way down the mountain, but the Whistler Blackcomb team now has a partner to support mountain safety. Mountain safety is the #1 priority for Whistler Blackcomb and Nestlé is making a marked impact on the delivery of a fun and safe guest experience, a true win-win.

Kudos to the Whistler Blackcomb team and Nestlé for having identified two fresh and authentic marketing assets which help a new sponsorship partner harness the powerful marketing opportunity that this premier resort represents.